Moldavia (: Moldova pronounced or Țara Moldovei, : Цαрα Мoлδoϐєі) is a historical region, and former in , corresponding to the territory between the and the river. An initially independent and later autonomous state, it existed from the 14th century to 1859, when it united with as the basis of the modern state; at various times, Moldavia included the regions of (with the ) and all of .
The half of Moldavia is now part of Romania, the eastern side belongs to the , while the and parts are territories of Ukraine.
Name and etymology
The original and short-lived reference to the region was Bogdania, after , the founding figure of the principality. The names Moldavia and Moldova are derived from the name of the ; however, the etymology is not known and there are several variants:
- a legend mentioned in by links it to an hunting trip of the and the latter's chase of a star-marked bull. Dragoș was accompanied by his female hound called Molda; when they reached the shores of an unfamiliar river, Molda caught up with the animal and was killed by it. The dog's name would have been given to the river and extended to the country.
- the old Molde, meaning ""
- the Mulda (Gothic: 𐌼𐌿𐌻𐌳𐌰, Runic: ᛗᚢᛚᛞᚨ) meaning "dust", "dirt" (cognate with the English ), referring to the river.
- a etymology (-ova is a quite common Slavic suffix), marking the end of one Slavic genitive form, denoting ownership, chiefly of feminine nouns (i.e., "that of Molda").
- A landowner named Alexa Moldaowicz is mentioned in a 1334 document as a local in service to ; this attests to the use of the name before the foundation of the Moldavian state and could be the source for the region's name.
In several early references, "Moldavia" is rendered under the composite form Moldo-Wallachia (in the same way may appear as Hungro-Wallachia). references to Moldavia included Boğdan Iflak (meaning "'s Wallachia") and Boğdan (and occasionally Kara-Boğdan - "Black Bogdania"). See also .
The name of the region in other languages include : Moldavie, : Moldau, : Moldva, : Молдавия, Moldaviya, : Boğdan Prensliği, : Μολδαβία.
Prehistory and antiquity
Early Middle Ages
The inhabitants of Moldova were Christians. Archaeological works revealed the remains of a Christian necropolis at Mihălășeni, Botoșani county, from the Vth century.The place of worship, and the tombs had Christian characteristics. The place of worship had a rectangular form with sides of 8 and 7 meters. Similar necropolis and place of worship were found at Nicolina, in Iași
The , a , is mentioned by the Hypatian Chronicle in the 13th century. The chronicle shows that this land is bordered on the principalities of Halych, Volhynia and Kiev. Archaeological research also identified the location of 13th-century fortified settlements in this region. Alexandru V. Boldur identified Voscodavie, Voscodavti, Voloscovti, Volcovti, Volosovca and their other towns and villages between the middle course of the rivers Nistru/Dniester and Nipru/Dnieper. The Bolohoveni disappeared from chronicles after their defeat in 1257 by Daniil Romanovich's troops.
In the early 13th century, the , a possible – state of , were present, alongside the Vlachs, in much of the region's territory (towards 1216, the Brodniks are mentioned as in service of ).
On the border between Halych and the Brodniks, in the 11th century, a by the name of Rodfos was killed in the area by Vlachs who supposedly betrayed him. In 1164, the future , was taken prisoner by Vlach shepherds around the same region.
High Middle Ages
Later in the 14th century, King attempted to expand his realm and the influence of the eastwards after the fall of Cuman rule, and ordered a campaign under the command of Phynta de Mende (1324). In 1342 and 1345, the Hungarians were victorious in a battle against ; the conflict was resolved by the death of , in 1357. The Polish chronicler mentioned Moldavians (under the name Wallachians) as having joined a military expedition in 1342, under King , against the .
In 1353, , mentioned as a Vlach in , was sent by to establish a line of defense against the forces of Mongols on the . This expedition resulted in a polity vassal to Hungary, centered around (Târgul Moldovei or Moldvabánya).
, another Vlach from Maramureş who had fallen out with the Hungarian king, crossed the Carpathians in 1359, took control of Moldavia, and succeeded in removing Moldavia from Hungarian control. His realm extended north to the , while the southern part of Moldavia was still occupied by the Tatar Mongols.
After first residing in Baia, Bogdan moved Moldavia's seat to (it was to remain there until moved it to ; it was finally moved to under - in 1565). The area around Suceava, roughly correspondent to future , formed one of the two administrative divisions of the new realm, under the name Ţara de Sus (the "Upper Land"), whereas the rest, on both sides of the river, formed Ţara de Jos (the "Lower Land").
Disfavored by the brief union of and Hungary (the latter was still the country's overlord), Bogdan's successor accepted to around 1370, but his gesture was to remain without consequences. Despite remaining officially and culturally connected with the after 1382, princes of the entered a conflict with the over control of appointments to the newly founded ; even cast an over Moldavia after expelled his appointee back to Byzantium. The crisis was finally settled in favor of the Moldavian princes under . Nevertheless, religious policy remained complex: while conversions to faiths other than Orthodox were discouraged (and forbidden for princes), Moldavia included sizable Roman Catholic communities (Germans and ), as well as ; after 1460, the country welcomed refugees (founders of Ciuburciu and, probably, ).
The principality of Moldavia covered the entire geographic region of Moldavia. In various periods, various other territories were politically connected with the Moldavian principality. This is the case of the province of , the fiefdoms of and (both in ) or, at a later date, the territories between the Dniester and the Bug rivers.
profited from the end of the Hungarian-Polish union and moved the country closer to the , becoming a of on September 26, 1387. This gesture was to have unexpected consequences: Petru supplied the Polish ruler with funds needed in the war against the , and was granted control over until the debt was to be repaid; as this is not recorded to have been carried out, the region became disputed by the two states, until it was lost by Moldavia in the (1531). Prince Petru also expanded his rule southwards to the . His brother Roman I conquered the Hungarian-ruled in 1392, giving Moldavia an outlet to the , before being toppled from the throne for supporting in his conflict with of . Under , growing Polish influence was challenged by , whose expedition was defeated at in 1385; however, Stephen disappeared in mysterious circumstances.
Although was brought to the throne in 1400 by the Hungarians (with assistance from ), he shifted his allegiances towards Poland (notably engaging Moldavian forces on the Polish side in the and the ), and placed his own choice of rulers in Wallachia. His reign was one of the most successful in Moldavia's history, but also saw the very first confrontation with the at Cetatea Albă in 1420, and later even a conflict with the Poles. A deep crisis was to follow Alexandru's long reign, with his successors battling each other in a succession of wars that divided the country until the murder of and the ascension of in 1451. Nevertheless, Moldavia was subject to further Hungarian interventions after that moment, as deposed Aron and backed Alexăndrel to the throne in . Petru Aron's rule also signified the beginning of Moldavia's allegiance, as the ruler agreed to pay to Sultan .
Late Middle Ages
Under , who took the throne and subsequently came to an agreement with in 1457, the state reached its most glorious period. Stephen blocked Hungarian interventions in the , invaded Wallachia in 1471, and dealt with Ottoman reprisals in a major victory (the 1475 ); after feeling threatened by Polish ambitions, he also attacked and resisted Polish reprisals in the (1497). However, he had to surrender (Kiliya) and Cetatea Albă (), the two main fortresses in the , to the Ottomans in 1484, and in 1498 he had to accept Ottoman suzerainty, when he was forced to agree to continue paying tribute to Sultan . Following the taking of (Khotyn) and , Stephen's rule also brought a brief extension of Moldavian rule into : Cetatea de Baltă and became his in 1489.
Early Modern Era and Renaissance
Under , Ottoman overlordship was confirmed in the shape that would rapidly evolve into control over Moldavia's affairs. , who reigned in the 1530s and 1540s, clashed with the over his ambitions in Transylvania (losing possessions in the region to ), was defeated in Pokuttya by Poland, and failed in his attempt to extricate Moldavia from Ottoman rule – the country lost to the Ottomans, who included it in their .
A period of profound crisis followed. Moldavia stopped issuing its own coinage circa 1520, under Prince , when it was confronted with rapid depletion of funds and rising demands from the . Such problems became endemic when the country, brought into the , suffered the impact of the ; at one point, during the 1650s and 1660s, princes began relying on coinage (usually copies of , as was that issued by ). The economic decline was accompanied by a failure to maintain state structures: the -based were no longer convoked, and the few troops maintained by the rulers remained professional such as the .
However, Moldavia and the similarly affected Wallachia remained both important sources of income for the Ottoman Empire and relatively prosperous agricultural economies (especially as suppliers of grain and cattle – the latter was especially relevant in Moldavia, which remained an under-populated country of ). In time, much of the resources were tied to the , either through on trade that were only lifted in 1829, after the (which did not affect all domains directly), or through the raise in direct taxes - the one demanded by the Ottomans from the princes, as well as the ones demanded by the princes from the country's population. Taxes were directly proportional with Ottoman requests, but also with the growing importance of Ottoman appointment and sanctioning of princes in front of election by the and the boyar Council – Sfatul boieresc (drawing in a competition among pretenders, which also implied the intervention of creditors as suppliers of bribes). The fiscal system soon included taxes such as the (a tax on head of cattle), first introduced by in the 1580s.
The economic opportunities offered brought about a significant influx of and financiers and officials, who entered a stiff competition with the high boyars over appointments to the Court. As the suffered the blows of economic crises, and in the absence of (which implied that persons in office could decide their own income), obtaining princely appointment became the major focus of a boyar's career. Such changes also implied the decline of free peasantry and the rise of , as well as the rapid fall in the importance of low boyars (a traditional institution, the latter soon became marginal, and, in more successful instances, added to the population of towns); however, they also implied a rapid transition towards a , based on exchanges in foreign currency. Serfdom was doubled by the much less numerous slave population (robi), composed of migrant and captured .
The conflict between princes and boyars was to become exceptionally violent – the latter group, who frequently appealed to the Ottoman court in order to have princes comply with its demands, was persecuted by rulers such as and . Ioan Vodă's revolt against the Ottomans ended in his execution (1574). The country descended into political chaos, with frequent Ottoman and incursions and pillages. The claims of Muşatins to the crown and the traditional system of succession were ended by scores of illegitimate reigns; one of the usurpers, , was a Greek who encouraged the and attempted to introduce to Moldavia.
In 1595, the rise of the boyars to the throne with coincided with the start of frequent anti-Ottoman and anti- military expeditions of the into Moldavian territory (see ), and rivalries between pretenders to the Moldavian throne encouraged by the three competing powers.
The Wallachian prince , after previously taking over , also deposed Prince Ieremia Movilă, in 1600, and managed to become the first Prince to rule over Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania; the episode ended in Polish conquests of lands down to , soon ended by the outbreak of the and the reestablishment of Ottoman rule. Polish incursions were dealt a blow by the Ottomans during the 1620 , which also saw an end to the reign of .
The following period of relative peace saw the more prosperous and prestigious rule of , who took the throne as a boyar appointee in 1637, and began battling his rival , as well as the Wallachian prince – however, his invasion of Wallachia with the backing of ended in disaster at the (1653). A few years later, Moldavia was occupied for two short intervals by the anti-Ottoman Wallachian prince , who clashed with the first ruler of the , . In the early 1680s, Moldavian troops under intervened in and assisted in the , only to suffer the effects of the .
During the late 17th century, Moldavia became the target of the 's southwards expansion, inaugurated by during the ; Prince 's siding with Peter and open anti-Ottoman rebellion, ended in defeat at , provoked Sultan 's reaction, and the official discarding of recognition of local choices for princes, imposing instead a system which relied solely on Ottoman approval – the , inaugurated by the reign of .
Short and frequently ended through violence, Phanariote rules were usually marked by , intrigue, and high taxation, as well as by sporadic incursions of Habsburg and Russian armies deep into Moldavian territory; nonetheless, they also saw attempts at legislative and administrative modernization inspired by (such as ' decision to salarize public offices, to the outrage of boyars, and the abolition of serfdom in 1749, as well as 's Code), and signified a decrease in Ottoman demands after the threat of Russian annexation became real and the prospects of a better life led to waves of peasant emigration to neighboring lands. The effects of Ottoman control were also made less notable after the 1774 allowed Russia to intervene in favour of Ottoman subjects of the Eastern Orthodox faith - leading to campaigns of petitioning by the Moldavian boyars against princely policies.
In 1712, was taken over by the Ottomans, and became part of a defensive system that Moldavian princes were required to maintain, as well as an area for Islamic (the community).
In 1775, Moldavia lost to the its northwestern part, which became known as . For Moldavia, it meant both an important territorial loss and a major blow to the cattle trade (as the region stood on the trade route to Central Europe).
The 1792 forced the Ottoman Empire to cede all of its holdings in what is now to Russian Empire, which made Russian presence much more notable, given that the Empire acquired a common border with Moldavia. The first effect of this was the cession of the eastern half of Moldavia (renamed as ) to the Russian Empire, in 1812.
Organic Statute, 1848 revolution
Phanariote rules were officially ended after the 1821 occupation of the country by 's during the ; the subsequent Ottoman retaliation brought the rule of , considered as the first one of a new system – especially since, in 1826, the Ottomans and Russia agreed to allow for the election by locals of rulers over the two , and convened on their mandating for seven-year terms. In practice, a new fundament to reigns in Moldavia was created by the , and a period of Russian domination over the two countries which ended only in 1856: begun as a military occupation under the command of , Russian domination gave Wallachia and Moldavia, which were not removed from nominal Ottoman control, the modernizing (the first document resembling a , as well as the first one to regard both principalities). After 1829, the country also became an important destination for of from the and areas of Russia (see and ).
The first Moldavian rule established under the Statute, that of , was nonetheless ambivalent: eager to reduce abuse of office, Sturdza introduced reforms (the abolition of slavery, , economic rebuilding), but he was widely seen as enforcing his own power over that of the newly instituted consultative Assembly. A supporter of the union of his country with Wallachia and of Romanian , he obtained the establishment of a between the two countries (1847) and showed support for projects favored by low boyars; nevertheless, he clamped down with noted violence the in the last days of March 1848. allowed the exiled revolutionaries to return to Moldavia c. 1853, which led to the creation of the (Partida Naţională), a trans-boundary group of radical union supporters which campaigned for a single state under a foreign dynasty.
(: robie) was part of the from before the founding of the Principality of Moldavia, until it was in stages during the 1840s and 1850s. Most of the slaves were of (Gypsy) ethnicity. There were also slaves of ethnicity, probably prisoners captured from the wars with the and . The institution of slavery was first attested in a 1470 Moldavian document, through which Prince frees Oană, a Tatar slave who had fled to .
The exact origins of slavery are not known, as it was a common . As in the , the Roma were held as slaves of the state, of the or of the monasteries. Historian associated the Roma people's arrival with the 1241 and considered their slavery as a vestige of that era; he believed that the Romanians took the Roma as slaves from the and preserved their status to control their labor. Other historians consider that the Roma were enslaved while captured during the battles with the Tatars. The practice of enslaving prisoners may also have been taken from the Mongols. The ethnic identity of the "Tatar slaves" is unknown, they could have been captured Tatars of the , , or the slaves of Tatars and Cumans. While it is possible that some Romani people were slaves or auxiliary troops of the Mongols or Tatars, most of them came from south of the , demonstrating that slavery a widespread practice. The Tatar slaves, smaller in numbers, were eventually merged into the Roma population.
Traditionally, Roma slaves were divided into three categories. The smallest was owned by the hospodars, and went by the Romanian-language name of ţigani domneşti ("Gypsies belonging to the lord"). The two other categories comprised ţigani mănăstireşti ("Gypsies belonging to the monasteries"), who were the property of and monasteries, and ţigani boiereşti ("Gypsies belonging to the boyars"), who were enslaved by the category of landowners.
The abolition of slavery was carried out following a campaign by young revolutionaries who embraced the ideas of the . In 1844, Moldavian Prince proposed a law on the freeing of slaves owned by the church and state. By the 1850s, the movement gained support from almost the whole of Romanian society. In December 1855, following a proposal by Prince , a bill drafted by and was adopted by the Divan; the law emancipated all slaves to the status of taxpayers (citizens).
Support for the abolitionists was reflected in of the mid-19th century. The issue of the Roma slavery became a theme in the literary works of various and intellectuals, many of whom were active in the abolitionist camp. The Romanian abolitionist movement was also influenced by the much larger movement against in the United States through press reports and through a translation of 's . Translated by Theodor Codrescu and first published in in 1853, under the name Coliba lui Moşu Toma sau Viaţa negrilor în sudul Statelor Unite din America (which translates back as "Uncle Toma's Cabin or the Life of Blacks in the Southern United States of America"), it was the first American novel to be published in Romanian. The foreword included a study on slavery by Mihail Kogălniceanu.
Union with Wallachia
Russian domination ended abruptly after the , when the passed the two principalities under the tutelage of (together with Russia and the Ottoman overlord, power-sharing included the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the , the , the , and ). Due to Austrian and Ottoman opposition and British reserves, the union program as demanded by radical campaigners was debated intensely. In September 1857, given that had perpetrated in elections in Moldavia, the Powers allowed the two states to convene ad-hoc , which were to decide a new constitutional framework; the result showed overwhelming support for the union, as the creation of a and state. After further meetings among leaders of tutor states, an agreement was reached (the Paris Convention), whereby a limited union was to be enforced – separate governments and thrones, with only two bodies (a and a Central Commission residing in ); it also stipulated that an end to all privilege was to be passed into law, and awarded back to Moldavia the areas around , , and .
However, the Convention failed to note whether the two thrones could not be occupied by the same person, allowing Partida Naţională to introduce the candidacy of in both countries. On January 17 (January 5, 1859 ), in , he was elected prince of Moldavia by the respective electoral body. After street pressure over the much more body in , Cuza was elected in Wallachia as well (February 5/January 24). Exactly three years later, after diplomatic missions that helped remove opposition to the action, the formal union created the (the basis of modern Romania) and instituted Cuza as (all legal matters were clarified after the replacement of the prince with in April 1866, and the creation of an independent in 1881) - this officially ending the existence of the Principality of Moldavia.
Under the reign of , all farmers and villagers had to bear arms. Stephen justified this by saying that "every man has a duty to defend his fatherland"; according to Polish chronicler , if someone was found without carrying a weapon, he was . Stephen reformed the army by promoting men from the landed free peasantry răzeşi (i.e. something akin to ) to infantry (voinici) and light cavalry (hânsari) — to make himself less dependent on the — and introduced his army to guns. In times of crises, The Small Host (Oastea Mică) — which consisted of around 10,000 to 12,000 men — stood ready to engage the enemy, while the Large Host (Oastea Mare) — which could reach up to 40,000 — had all the free peasantry older than 14, and strong enough to carry a or use the , recruited. This seldom happened, for such a was devastating for both economy and population growth. In the , Stephen had to summon the Large Host and also recruited troops.
In the and early , the Moldavians relied on light (călărași) which used similar to those of the ; this gave them great mobility and also flexibility, in case they found it more suitable to dismount their horses and fight in hand-to-hand combat, as it happened in 1422, when 400 were sent to aid , Moldavia’s overlord against the . When making eye-contact with the enemy, the horse archers would withdraw to a nearby forest and themselves with leaves and branches; according to Jan Długosz, when the enemy entered the wood, they were "showered with arrows" and defeated. The heavy cavalry consisted of the nobility, namely, the boyars and their guards, the viteji (lit. "brave ones", small nobility) and the curteni — the Court Cavalry (all nominally part of the Small Host). In times of war, boyars were compelled by the to supply the prince with troops in accordance with the extent of their .
Other troops consisted of professional foot soldiers (lefegii) which fulfilled the role, and the plăieşi, free peasants whose role was that of border guards: they guarded the mountain passes and were prepared to the enemy and to fight delaying actions.
In the absence of the prince, command was assigned to the Mare Spătar (Grand Sword-Bearer - a military office) or to the Mare Vornic (approx. Governor of the Country; a civilian office second only to the , which was filled by the prince himself). Supplying the troops was by tradition-later-made-into-law the duty of the inhabitants of those lands on which the soldiers were present at a given time.
The Moldavians' (as well as Wallachians') favourite military doctrine in (defensive) wars was a policy combined with harassment of the advancing enemy using and disruption of communication and supply lines, followed by a large scale ambush: a weakened enemy would be lured in a place where it would find itself in a position hard or impossible to defend. A general attack would follow, often with devastating results. The shattered remains of what was once the enemy army would be pursued closely and harassed all the way to the border and sometimes beyond. A typical example of successful employments of this scenario is the .
Towards the end of the 15th century, especially after the success of and , mercenaries became a dominant force in the country’s military. With the economic demands created by the , the force diminished and included only mercenaries such as the .
The 1829 allowed Moldavia to again maintain its own troops, no longer acting as an auxiliary under strict Ottoman supervision, and assigned red over blue (see ). Their renewed existence under was a major symbol and rally point for the cause, aiding in bringing about the .
An early mention of a Moldavian is found in connection with the rule of , who used it to help establish his control over the of the and .
The Treaty of Adrianople provided for a Moldavian self-defense naval force, to be composed of vessels. armed with were first built in the 1840s. Along with patrolling the Danube, these made their way on its tributaries, the and the .
Flags and historical coats of arms
Geographically, Moldavia is limited by the to the West, the to the North, the to the East and the and to the South. The flows approximately through its middle from north to south.
Of late 15th century Moldavia, with an area of approximately 97,000 km2 (37,000 sq mi), the biggest part and the core of the former principality is located in Romania (47.5%), followed by the (30.5%) and Ukraine (22%). This represents 88% of the Republic of Moldova's surface, 19.5% of Romania's surface, and 3.5% of Ukraine's surface.
The region is mostly hilly, with a range of mountains in the west, and plain areas in the southeast. Moldavia's highest altitude is peak (2,279m), which is also the westernmost point of the region.
Contemporary historians estimate the population (historically referred to as ) of the Moldavian Principality in the 15th century, at between 250,000 - 600,000 people, but an extensive catagraphy was first conducted in 1769-1774.
In 1848, the northwestern part, annexed in 1775 by the Habsburg Empire, , had a population of 377,571; in 1856, the eastern half of Moldavia, , annexed in 1812 by the Russian Empire, had a population of 990,274, while the population of Moldavia proper (the western half), in 1859, was 1,463,927.
The largest cities (as per last censuses) in the Moldavia region are:
- (290,422) - capital of Moldavia between 1564–1859
- (92,121) - capital of Moldavia between 1388–1564
In 1562, the so-called (a Latin Academic College) was founded in , near , a school which marked the beginnings of the organized humanistic education institutions in Moldavia.
The first institute of higher learning that functioned on the territory of Romania was (1640), founded by Prince Vasile Lupu as a Higher School for Latin and Slavonic Languages, followed by the , in 1707. The first high education structure in was established in the autumn of 1813, when laid the foundations of a class of engineers, its activities taking place within the Greek Princely Academy.
After 1813, other moments marked the development of higher education in Romanian language, regarding both and the technical science. , founded in 1835 by Prince Mihail Sturdza, is considered the first Romanian superior institute. In 1860, three faculties part of the Academia Mihăileană formed the nucleus for the newly established , the first Romanian modern university.
Magazines and newspapers
- Alăuta Românească
- (as part of the )
- Tentative list: